Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations
|Telescope style||Gravitational-wave observatory|
INDIGO, or IndIGO (Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations) is a consortium of Indian gravitational-wave physicists. This is an initiative to set up advanced experimental facilities for a multi-institutional observatory project in gravitational-wave astronomy located at Aundha, Hingoli, Maharashtra.
Since 2009, the IndIGO Consortium has been planning a roadmap for gravitational-wave astronomy and a phased strategy towards Indian participation in realizing a gravitational-wave observatory in the Asia-Pacific region. IndIGO is the Indian partner (along with the LIGO Laboratory in U.S.) in planning the LIGO-India project. LIGO-India is a planned advanced gravitational-wave detector to be located in India, whose concept proposal is now under active consideration by the science funding agencies in India and U.S. The LIGO Laboratory, in collaboration with the U.S. National Science Foundation and Advanced LIGO partners from the U.K., Germany and Australia, has offered to provide all of the designs and hardware for one of the three planned Advanced LIGO detectors to be installed, commissioned, and operated by an Indian team of scientists in a facility to be built in India. A site in the Hingoli, Maharashtra has been selected.
Early estimates place the date of commission in 2024.
The IndIGO Consortium has spearheaded the proposal for the LIGO-India gravitational-wave observatory, in association with the LIGO laboratory in US. In addition to the LIGO-India project, the other activities of IndIGO involve facilitating international collaborations in gravitational-wave physics and astronomy, initiating a strong experimental gravitational-wave research program in India, training of students and young scientists, etc.
The observatory will be operated jointly by IndIGO and LIGO and would form a single network along with the LIGO detectors in U.S. and Virgo in Italy. The design of the detector will be identical to that of the Advanced LIGO detectors in the US.
The major purpose of IndIGO is to set up the LIGO-India detector, which would help enhance the network of gravitational wave detectors worldwide. The network includes the two LIGO detectors in the US (in Hanford and Livingston), the Virgo and GEO600 detectors in Europe, and the proposed KAGRA detector in Japan. By simultaneous detection of the same event on these multiple detectors, a precise location in the sky can be pinpointed for the source of the detected waves. For example, the first detected gravitational waves by LIGO could only pinpoint the location of the black hole merger source to a broad area of the southern hemisphere sky. Using triangulation, this location information could be improved if the signal was detected on more than two detectors. Another important goal of IndIGO is to train scientists for successfully operating the LIGO-India detector, when commissioned. Previous studies have shown that a detector operational in India would improve source localization significantly, by an order of magnitude or more, depending on the region of the sky.
The additional funding required to operate the LIGO-India detector is still under consideration by the Indian government under the aegis of its department of science and technology (DST) and department of atomic energy (DAE). The US National Science Foundation agreed to the relocation of one of the Hanford detectors (L2) to LIGO-India provided that the additional funding required to house the detector in India would have to be sponsored by the host country.
On 17 February 2016, less than a week after LIGO's landmark announcement about the detection of gravitational waves, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Cabinet has granted ‘in-principle’ approval to the LIGO-India mega science proposal.
Organization and membership
The three lead institutions in the IndIGO consortium are: Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT).
IndIGO has currently over 70 member scientists. Bala Iyer of the Raman Research Institute is the Chairperson, and Tarun Souradeep of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics is the Spokesperson. The international advisory committee is chaired by theoretical physicist Abhay Ashtekar and has members from several international as well as Indian research institutions. IndiGO is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.
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